by: Geoff Ficke

A Great Example of Building a Successful Start-up
Gift Marketing Business from a Nice Personal Habit

Recently my Consumer Product Development and Marketing Consulting firm was engaged by a client seeking to leverage a Small Business opportunity from a personal habit she had nurtured all her life. The habit that this young lady had been encouraged to commercialize by friends and family for years was simply her thoughtfulness. She would commemorate almost any friend’s accomplishment, successes, holidays and birthdays by sending thoughtful, highly personal gifts. These gifts were prized by the recipients and had lead to a growing reputation in her neighborhood for their creativity.

We review hundreds of Consumer Product submissions from innovators, small and micro-businesses and entrepreneurs. Most contain some form of product improvement or novel new features. Few are as elegantly simple as this example of commercialization of a personalized gift program.

The client needed to expand what had been a hobby and simple acts of personal thoughtfulness into a real business that could develop growing Sales traction, execute a customized Marketing Strategy and handle all of the logistics essential to support inventory control, fulfillment and finance. This infrastructure needed to be developed on a relatively modest level of working capital.

We worked with the client to develop a Sales Model that was both simple for her to manage and for potential customers to grasp and appreciate. This was accomplished by limiting Price Points to three offerings. In the past she had personally made cleverly embellished cookies, candy, cakes, silk flowers and handicrafts. This would no longer be possible if the Small Gift Business was to be ramped up. We sourced local and regional wholesalers that worked with the client to minimize her Inventory exposure but provide an excellent range of offerings from which customers could choose.

The Marketing and Branding of the Company and the Gift packages was created with a whimsical, old country, memory lane theme. Gift Sets were packaged in highly desirable coffret-like unit cartons with clever Graphic Arts. Personalized messages are submitted on-line with each order, transcribed and included with each Gift Set shipment. Sales Collateral, Public Relations, selective personal appearances and a Web-Site with a strong call-to-action, copious and powerful key words and simple navigation logistics was created to drive Consumer traffic. A very valuable asset is growing each day in the form of a Customer Mailing List.

Today sales have grown so fast that the client’s bank has extended a line of credit for purchasing additional inventory and packaging. Product has been shipped to all 50 states and several countries. Clients are flooding the Web-Site with positive testimonials about the thoughtfulness of the products, the convenience of buying and direct delivery and wonderful pricing.

This type of project is most rewarding and on so many levels. For our Marketing and Branding Consulting Company we receive a tremendous level of satisfaction from playing a part in assisting an Entrepreneur in achieving their dream. The client is excited to get started to work each day. A fine financial and satisfying personal future is being developed. The reality of creating products that consumers want, buy and appreciate is a powerful tonic. It is always exciting for Start-Up Business owners to be able to expand and employ others in their community.

If you have a passion, a hobby or a novel idea this can often germinate a business opportunity. Offering a new Consumer Product or Service is not the insurmountable climb that so many people fear. This can be started small, locally or on a simple web-site. Managed with passion and drive there is still the opportunity to realize the American Dream.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.